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TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: For the good of the U.S. and Libya, Obama should offer Gaddafi safe transfer to Zimbabwe

But there is reason to believe that Gaddafi might, especially with missiles raining down on his country. Shortly after the Iraq war began in 2003, Gaddafi apparently called Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. According to an account the prime minster’s office relayed to Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper at the time, Gaddafi told Berlusconi that watching the American invasion of Iraq scared him.

“I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid,” Gaddafi is reported as saying.

America’s invasion of Iraq ultimately motivated Gaddafi to come clean and give up his WMD programs, which were far more extensive than what Western intelligence analysts had thought. (This, by the way, was one of the greatest unheralded successes of the Iraq war, a success the Libyan rebels and the coalition forces fighting against Gaddafi should be very thankful of.)

Gaddafi seems like a paranoid man. He likely doesn’t want to end up hiding in a “spider hole” like Saddam Hussein. Even if America is publicly saying that it won’t use ground troops, Gaddafi can’t be too sure in his paranoid mind that the U.S. will stick to that or that it won’t find his hiding place and bomb him to smithereens. He knows what American forces could do if they wanted to. Given this, he very well could be willing to give up power and leave the country along with children so long as he could take some cash and be assured that he wouldn’t be hunted down and prosecuted, if not killed.

This is an option the U.S. should be actively pursuing behind the scenes. There were reports that the rebels rejected an offer by Gaddafi to leave Libya earlier in March. It is unclear what the exact terms of the offer were or if it was sincere, but at the end of the day, the rebels don’t get the last say when American and other coalition forces are involved in military action to save them.

I hope such avenues are being pursued as we speak. If they are not, they should be with much haste, no matter how nauseating the thought of letting a mass killer like Gaddafi walk free may be.